Melatonin, a hormone produced by your body, has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety.
Supplementing with melatonin for anxiety can improve sleep quality, regulate circadian rhythm, and ease negative feelings associated with anxiousness.
Your hormone levels play a key role in your emotional state. Because of this, a hormonal imbalance can lead to anxiety.
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Melatonin is important because it tells your body when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up.
Your body produces higher levels of melatonin at night. Levels begin to rise once the sun sets, and drop in the morning as the sun rises.
The light you are exposed to each day, plus your own internal body clock, determine how much melatonin your body will produce.
Melatonin is also sold as a health supplement. It comes in pill, liquid, and chewable forms. You can typically find it at your local drugstore, supermarket, or vitamin shop.
As with most things, you can buy it online, as well. Melatonin is available in both natural and synthetic forms. The natural form is created from animal pineal glands.
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What Supplements can you Use for Anxiety?
There is a wide variety of supplements that can be used to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Supplements are not intended to take the place of prescription medication or other medical treatments—but they can be useful additions to your healthcare plan.
If appropriate for your individual needs, these supplements can be used to relieve anxiety symptoms:
- Vitamin A: Those who struggle with anxiety may be lacking in Vitamin A levels. Vitamin A has antioxidant properties that have been shown to help manage the symptoms of anxiety. The average dose is about 10,000 IU taken once per day (IU stands for international units).
- B-complex: B-complex supplements contain all of the B vitamins that your body requires. B vitamins are vital for maintaining a healthy, functioning nervous system. They can potentially improve the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Doses for B-complexes vary, ranging from 300 to 500 milligrams taken once per day.
- Vitamin C: Antioxidants like Vitamin C work to stop oxidative damage to your nervous system. Anxiety can be increased by this type of damage. The average dose ranges from 500 to 1,000 mg taken once or twice per day.
- Vitamin D: This important nutrient assists your body in absorbing other vitamins. Vitamin D deficiency can cause other vitamin deficiencies, which makes anxiety worse. The average dose is between 1,000 and 2,000 IU taken once or twice daily.
- Vitamin E: Another vitamin with antioxidant properties, Vitamin E is quickly burned up in times of anxiety and high stress. Taking Vitamin E supplements can help restore balance in your body and reduce stress-related symptoms. The dose is typically 400 IU taken once daily.
- Fish oil: Fish oil is loaded with omega-3 acids, which act as antioxidants. EPA and DHA are two omega-3 supplements that have been shown to help calm anxiousness. The average dose may contain 2,000 mg of EPA, DHA, and ALA. Each dose can be split up across multiple servings or taken at once.
- GABA: When there’s not enough GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) present in the brain, anxiety can deepen. Supplements containing GABA may help replace missing GABA in the brain, though research is ongoing. The dose is about 500 to 700 mg taken once or twice per day.
- L-theanine: This amino acid, often found in green tea, has been proven to reduce anxiety in both animal and human trials. The average dose is 200 mg once daily.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a necessary mineral for the human body. You don’t need a lot of it, but not having enough can cause anxiety symptoms. The supplement dose is 100 to 500 milligrams once per day.
- 5-HTP: 5-HTP is a neurotransmitter and precursor to serotonin, the “happy brain chemical.” When used with certain therapies, 5-HTP supplements can help with anxiousness. The dose is typically 50 to 200 mg per day.
- Melatonin: Though your body produces melatonin on its own, you might not make enough. That can cause sleeplessness, trouble relaxing, and general anxiety. Supplementing with melatonin for anxiety can improve sleep quality, regulate circadian rhythm, and ease negative feelings associated with anxiousness. Doses are different based on the reason you’re taking the melatonin. For anxiety, a typical dose might be 3 to 10 mg.
Different Ways to Take Melatonin
Melatonin supplements can be taken several different ways, depending on the individual and the symptoms being treated.
The most common method is the oral consumption of melatonin capsules or tablets. To treat anxiety, this is generally a quick and easy method. Melatonin has a myriad of uses, though, and can be administered in all of the following ways:
- Orally: Melatonin can be taken orally in capsule or tablet form. Be sure to take an appropriate dose for your age and symptoms.
- Sublingually: Melatonin can be dissolved under the tongue. This is a common method of administration for patients attempting to reduce anxiety before surgery.
- Topically: Melatonin has many uses, including topical skin care. Sunburn can be treated by rubbing melatonin-containing gel into the skin fifteen minutes prior to sun exposure, or four hours after sun exposure.
- Intravenously: Though not a common or DIY-friendly method of consumption melatonin can be administered intravenously. This might be done as part of various therapies to treat tumors. As you can see, melatonin is a very versatile supplement.
What are the Benefits of Checking Melatonin Levels?
There are many benefits to making yourself aware of your melatonin levels. Melatonin is a super clever and versatile hormone that can help with anxiety and depression, relieve pain from chronic disease, prevent cancer cell growth, and decrease the effects of estrogen on tumor growth. With so many amazing benefits, it’s in your best interest to check your melatonin level—and supplement if necessary.
Your melatonin levels can be checked with a blood, saliva, or urine test. A common method of testing involves collecting a saliva sample at around ten o’clock in the evening. That’s the time when your melatonin level should be at its highest.
This test isn’t always readily available at a standard medical clinic or doctor’s office. You may need to find a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor. They will interpret the results of your test and help you create a supplemental melatonin plan.
Normal levels of melatonin vary throughout the twenty-four hour in a day. There is still some argument over whether it’s best to measure melatonin levels using blood, urine, or saliva.
What Causes Melatonin Levels to be Low?
There are a number of factors that can cause your body’s melatonin production to decrease, including:
- Lack of natural light exposure
- Exposure to light at nighttime (televisions, cell phones, computers)
- Working night shifts at your job
- Traveling and changing time zones (jet lag)
- Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality (parents with an infant child)
- Nutritional deficiencies
When your melatonin levels are too low, you may experience difficulty sleeping or forgetfulness. You may notice that it’s hard to get to sleep and that you feel awake, rather than sleepy, after ten o’clock in the evening.
When your melatonin levels are low, your immunity is also lower.
You’re more susceptible to catching a cold or getting the flu. If you experience any of these symptoms, your melatonin levels could be low and you should consider getting tested by a functional medicine practitioner or other qualified professional.
Other Benefits of Supplemental Melatonin
Using supplemental melatonin for anxiety symptoms and sleep quality is a fairly well-known practice. Its applications, however, go much further.
Here are a few other things melatonin supplements can do:
- Boost your immune system
- Prevent you from gaining fat
- Delay age-related vision loss
- Reduce ringing in your ears
- Lessen the negative side effects of smoking cessation
- Prevent premature aging
- Improve Mood
- Reduce occurrences of cluster headaches
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There are even more potential benefits of supplemental melatonin still being examined. They include the treatment of dementia, endometriosis, restless leg syndrome, and non-alcoholic liver disease.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD for short, is important to mention when discussing melatonin levels and anxiety. The amount of melatonin your body produces changes due to light exposure levels. When sunlight exposure is infrequent, such as during the shortened daylight hours of winter, a temporary depression may set in.
SAD is especially prominent in areas of higher latitude. Due to the reduction in light exposure, your melatonin levels will start fluctuating at abnormal times. Serotonin, a chemical tied to feelings of happiness, is also produced at reduced levels.
There are special boxes, called SAD light boxes, that can be used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. The box emits a light that is twenty-five times brighter than normal daylight. Using a SAD light box for thirty minutes per day can help regulate melatonin production, relieving heightened symptoms of anxiety and restlessness.
Types of Anxiety That can be Treated With Melatonin
Anxiety can be broken down into different categories, based on causal factors and symptoms. Melatonin can be used to help treat the following types of anxiety:
- Generalized Anxiety: Those who struggle with generalized anxiety may “overreact” to daily troubles and obstacles in life. They undergo huge psychological stress in reaction to relatively minor problems. This excessive, often irrational worrying can prevent normal functioning. Supplemental melatonin can be used to decrease anxiety scores—measures of anxiety symptoms—in generalized anxiety sufferers.
- Age-Related Anxiety: Recent research has shown that the elderly population experience more anxiety than previously thought. A decline in physical health reduced social contact, and change in mental status could all be anxiety-inducing factors for the elderly. Melatonin, taken nightly, could alleviate anxiety and depression in older adults.
- Surgical Anxiety: Hospital and surgical anxiety is an extremely common occurrence in those requiring medical procedures. Sedatives can relieve this anxiety but often have some unwanted side effects. Melatonin has enabled some patients to get through surgeries with less anxiety and less pain.
Hormone Balance is Vital for Reducing Anxiety Levels
An imbalance in the body’s endocrine system will cause instability in hormone levels. This imbalance can lead to anxiety. Your hormone levels play a key role in your emotional state.
The endocrine system controls your energy level and determines how well we deal with stress and remain calm. When hormones are out of balance, the result can be anxiety, depression, mood swings, agitation, and disturbed sleep.
Women, especially, are prone to anxiety. That’s partly because women’s hormones can go awry during pregnancy and menstruation. The decrease in estrogen and serotonin experienced during menstruation and menopause can have a major impact on mood and cognitive function.
Anxiety is a serious and debilitating condition. People with anxiety resulting from hormonal imbalance may think that they have a disorder or mental illness, but that is not necessarily the case. Your body may simply be sending you a message that something is not right internally.
If you suffer from anxiety and have tried several corrective protocols to no avail, you should get tested to determine your levels of melatonin and other hormones.
It’s important to understand that hormones are responsible for almost every process that occurs in your body. Your body is used to a very specific number of hormones, and any fluctuation can have very noticeable effects. Puberty and improper nutrition are other factors that can affect hormone levels—in men or women.
Anxiety is so complex that it can cause hormonal imbalances that actually lead to more stress and anxiety! Hormone imbalances affect both men and women and produce anxiety even if you’ve never had anxiety before. If you do already have anxiety, hormonal imbalances can definitely pile on more stress.
In addition to using supplemental melatonin for anxiety, there are other things you should do to help restore balance to your hormones. Proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep, for instance, should become a regular part of your routine. The good news is that anxiety induced by hormonal imbalance can be treated and corrected.
By testing your melatonin and other hormone levels, you can begin taking steps to reduce your anxiety and alleviate your stress symptoms. Restoring balance to your hormones will restore balance to your life!